There's no bones about it, English is weird. It's one of the hardest languages to learn, so much so that even native English speakers have trouble with it. Rules of thumb aren't really rules of thumb, words change meaning over time, and words that are spelled similarly don't always rhyme. Here are 11 interestingly weird facts about the English language.
The most commonly used word is "I".
It's also the oldest and shortest word in the english language.
The word "girl" was once gender neutral.
At one point during the evolution of the english language, "girl" meant child, or young person, rather than indicating a specific gender.
The popular rule for using "a" and "an" is wrong.
Most people learn that you should use "a" before words that start with a consonant, and "an" before words that start with a vowel. That's actually not quite right. The real rule is to use "a" before words that starts with a consonant, and "an" before words that start with a vowel sound.
Ex. I just need an hour more before I run my errands.
The American Revolution is why we have "Color" and not "Colour".
After winning our independence from Britain, Americans felt the obvious next step was to differentiate our language. Noah Webster led this crusade, urging Americans to be free from "the clamor of pedantry" that plagued British spelling. This mostly meant removing what he thought of as unnecessary letters in certain words like "colour", "programme" and "catalogue". The first American dictionary (complete with new spellings) was published in 1806.
Words with the same vowel structure don't always rhyme.
Cough, Though, Rough, Through all use the same "ough", but are pronounced completely different. Why? We honestly don't know. But hey, there's always "Pony" and "Bologna".
We follow this complicated adjective rule without even realizing it.
This is one of those weird english rules that we never break, even though we've probably never been explicitly taught it. When describing something, there's a very specific order in which your adjectives go. Opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin material, purpose. It's why "look at that square, adorable, little, purple, butterfly!" will never sound as good as "look at that adorable, little, square, purple butterfly!".
Clusivity in the english language is confusing.
Clusivity is defined as "a grammatical distinction between inclusive and exclusive first person pronouns and verbal morphology", aka the inclusive "we" and exclusive "we". English is one of the few languages that does not have separate words for "we (that includes the listener) and we (that excludes the listener).
There's an explanation for why some words are spelled the same but pronounced differently.
Get frustrated with "content" and "content" or "record" and "record" ? Well those pesky changes are actually alternating stress patterns, standard in English language and indicative of whether related words are nouns (first syllable is stressed) or verbs "second syllable is stressed). There's a method to the madness!
There's actually a name for that sound that the letters "t-h" make.
Words like "this" and "thing" have distinct "th" sounds, which is actually called a Dental Fricative. There are two types, voiced (like "this"), and voiceless (like "thing"). Interestingly, most languages do not have a Voiced Dental Fricative.
The English language is full of contronyms.
Contronyms are words that have two opposite meanings. For instance, the word clips means both to attach together, and to cut apart. "Weather" is another one, which can either mean wear away or to withstand. It's seen as one of the hardest grammar rules when learning English as a second language.
"I before E except after Ç" is a lie.
Who hasn't heard the jingle "I before E except after C, or when sounded as 'a' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh"? But with all the exceptions to the rule, it's no longer really considered a good rule of thumb. Merriam Webster even debunked it with a little jingle of its own.
"I before e, except after c
Or when sounded as 'a' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'
Unless the 'c' is part of a 'sh' sound as in 'glacier'
Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like 'fancier
'And also except when the vowels are sounded as 'e' as in 'seize'
Or 'i' as in 'height'
Or also in '-ing' inflections ending in '-e' as in 'cueing'
Or in compound words as in 'albeit'
Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in 'cuneiform'
Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as 'science', 'forfeit', and 'weird.'"
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